How did this “lack of trust” arise? Why did it grow so serious that the Americans carried out this important raid on Pakistani soil without notifying the Pakistani government beforehand? This is directly attributable to that government’s track record. The Telegraph reported Tuesday that the Pakistani government had sheltered bin Laden for ten years, and that “American diplomats were told that one of the key reasons why they had failed to find bin Laden was that Pakistan’s security services tipped him off whenever US troops approached.” Indian journalist Chidanand Rajghatta noted that “the finger of suspicion is now pointing squarely at the Pakistani military and intelligence for sheltering and protecting Osama bin Laden before US forces hunted him down and put a bullet in his head in the wee hours of Sunday. The coordinates of the action and sequence of events indicate that the al-Qaida fugitive may have been killed in an ISI safehouse.”
Rajghatta also reported that bin Laden was killed where he had been living: in “a large mansion in a massive compound with 12 feet to 18 feet tall walls topped with barbed wire.” This compound was “not in a cave in some frontier mountain redoubt, but in a suburban neighborhood in a million-strong city just an hour’s drive from Islamabad, right under the eyes of the Pakistani military.”
Who put him up there? Who knew that he was there? How long was he there? The Pakistani government needs to come clean. It strains credulity to the breaking point to imagine that they didn’t know that he was there, and indeed, that they weren’t actively protecting him there. The death of Osama bin Laden in this fortress in a Pakistani military town suggests that the Pakistani government’s involvement with al-Qaeda is far deeper and more extensive than a few rogue elements of the ISI. Indeed, if Pakistan was sheltering bin Laden for ten years, whether in this particular safe house or in others, then this protection stretches back into Musharraf’s tenure as Pakistani President. Musharraf himself almost certainly knows about it, and has for quite some time – and yet is posturing in the international media today about a deplorable “lack of trust” that the Americans have demonstrated by declining to involve the Pakistanis in the operation against bin Laden.
It is long past time to end the fantasy-based policymaking that has counted Pakistan as a U.S. ally for so many years. Imagine the boost to the U.S. economy that could be occasioned by cutting off all aid to Pakistan today, thereby saving billions annually. In that event, the United States would no longer be in the position of being played for a fool by a Pakistani government that is more obviously than ever in league with our enemies, and of funding our own demise.
Cutting off Pakistan at this point, after the death of Osama bin Laden, is simply a matter of common sense and a healthy instinct for self-preservation. Unfortunately, both continue to be in short supply in Washington.
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